A lot has happened in the Equifax case since the company revealed the massive data breach that compromised the personal information of an estimated 143 million people across the U.S., Canada, and the UK. For starters, the company’s CEO, Richard Smith, stepped down, and the company as a whole is now facing many potential lawsuits. The hack also caught the attention of many members of Congress, who all have their own ideas of how the U.S. and organizations like Equifax can protect against future hacks. In addition to all this, Equifax announced that it would provide “free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring services” for customers. Just recently, however, the company announced “another free service to help consumers protect themselves in the wake of its massive data breach,” credit locking.
According to the company, credit locking would “prevent criminals from opening a fraudulent account — like a credit card or a mortgage — in your name, even if they’ve gotten a hold of your personal information.” At the moment the new service is expected to be available January 31, “and it will be free, for life.” At face value, the new service is a more significant step towards cleaning up the mess the data hack caused, and is much more significant than the company’s “previous offer for one free year of credit monitoring, or its promise to waive the fee to freeze your credit through the end of January.”
So what spurred the addition of the new credit locking service? Well, the new interim CEO, Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr. understands that it will take a lot of effort on Equifax’s part before the public trusts it again. In a recent letter of apology that was published in The Wall Street Journal, he “admitted that the company wasn’t able to live up to people’s expectations” and acknowledged the website failed to “function as it should have.” Barros believes the new credit locking service will be a step in the right direction for the company, and a necessary one to protect its customers.
For those who don’t know, Equifax suffered “one of the biggest security breaches in history earlier this year…when attackers exploited a known flaw in the company’s server that it should’ve patched.” As a result of the hack, credit card data and other sensitive information belonging to more than 143 million Americans was compromised. Information like “names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses” were all put at risk in the hack.